CFP Presumed Autonomy: Literature and Art in Theory and Practice

Presumed Autonomy:

Literature and Art in Theory and Practice

10–13 May 2016

Department of English, Stockholm University, Sweden

Ever since the emergence of the modern marketplace for cultural goods, literary texts and art works have, on occasion, defied the expectations of its readers and audience, affronted their moral ethos, or flaunted a disregard for their sensibilities and norms. The potential power of art to disrupt the perceptions of its audience was foregrounded in the critical discourse of the modernists and the historical avant-garde and this possibility continues to animate critical debates, particularly those organized around some understanding of autonomy. With the all but complete commodification of every artistic and literary practice, it is more urgent than ever to pose the question whether we can still presume autonomy.

The four-day conference seeks to bring together researchers from a range of disciplines to assess, from the perspective of the present, the historical trajectory of autonomy as it has been conceptualized, recognized, assumed, deployed, and questioned by critics and practitioners of art, and to explore artistic, philosophical, cultural, and institutional negotiations of art as embedded in and entangled with the multiple heteronomies of market, state, religion, education… (a list that cannot be complete). As there are important intersections between various definitions of autonomy as well as artistic practices, several methodological and thematic strands will be brought together in four streams:

–Autonomy and the Avant-garde

–Theories of aesthetic autonomy

–Fields, markets, capitals, commodities and autonomy

–Autonomy and the body

The conference organizers invite contributions that address the issues indicated in the rubrics above. You can choose either to earmark your abstract for one of the streams, or send it in for general consideration. The list below can be taken to indicate the scope of those particular and general concerns, while not necessarily restricting the possibilities. Proposals for presentations should address the problematics of autonomy in relation to one or several of the following thematic headings:

  • aesthetic codings of the modern: myths, styles, temporalities, and techniques
  • affect
  • the architecture of thought
  • biopower and control
  • capitalism
  • the commodity
  • contemporary critical efforts to re-theorize form
  • the debate between activist and normative formalisms
  • early twentieth-century theorizations of literature and modern art
  • ecologies
  • fields of cultural production
  • education, the university: formation, reproduction and defense of autonomy
  • forms of capital
  • global modernisms
  • the historical avant-garde
  • inaesthetics
  • institutions
  • living materialities
  • national, transnational, and postnational frameworks
  • object-oriented vs. becoming-oriented paradigms
  • politics
  • the (post)human body
  • spaces, territories, place
  • the state as the source of autonomy or heteronomy
  • “world literature,” the postcolonial condition, and economic globalization

For more information about the conference, please visit our website:

Confirmed Keynotes: Tim Armstrong (Royal Holloway, University of London), Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University), Nicholas Brown (University of Illinois, Chicago), Anne A. Cheng (Princeton University), Peter Kalliney (University of Kentucky), Gisèle Sapiro (L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, EHESS, Paris), and Lisa Siraganian (Southern Methodist University).

Please submit your paper abstract (about 500 words) and a brief biographical note either by email to, or by using the ‘Proposal Submission’ tab on the conference’s website page “Call for Papers” for online submission.

Conference organizers:

Gül Bilge Han

Bo G. Ekelund

Marina Ludwigs

Charlotta Palmstierna Einarsson

Irina Rasmussen Goloubeva